Blooming Time

Living in a townhouse, it’s been strangely comforting to know that Bob’s back, knees and elbows will be spared this Spring from the Big Clean-Up. No more hauling wheelbarrows filled with mulch. chainsawing stray limbs, or pruning branches on ladders. Our new chapter is getting better all the time! A landscaping crew arrived last week and plowed through all the heavy-lifting in two days, however the few feet in front of our front porch remains bare. What to do?

Why not spruce up our front yard?

The Bride had us over the other day to discuss her landscaping plans. Last year, when they moved into their first house, they tackled the back yard and installed a raised bed for veggies and a compost bin. Now she and the Groom are ready to beautify their run-of-the-mill foundation plants and install a fence. We gave her our opinions (isn’t it great when your adult children ask for your opinions?) but first we had lunch at Thistle Farms.

Thistle Farms is an amazing Nashville non-profit. It’s right in the Bride’s neighborhood and is so much more than a gift shop, cafe and tea house. I’ve been wearing their “Love Heals” cap for years and adore their hand soap and moisturizing lotions. Needless to say, the food is organic and heavenly! https://thistlefarms.org/

Thistle Farms’ mission is to HEAL, EMPOWER, AND EMPLOY women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. We do this by providing safe and supportive housing, the opportunity for economic independence, and a strong community of advocates and partners.  We believe that in the end, love is the most powerful force for change in the world. 

“There but for fortune,” is the Joan Baez song that runs through my brain whenever I step through the door of Thistle Farms. Everyone has a story, and we all have scars – the difference is these women are actively working to change their lives. When the Bride walked in and I embraced her, I saw the cashier smiling at us, and I saw the longing in her eyes. Had she lost her mother? Did she have to give away her daughter in a court battle?

Like the Flapper had to give me away to her friend for safe-keeping after the car accident.

“Bloom where you’re planted” has always been my motto since marrying my gypsy ER doc. Would I love to still be living at the edge of a bird sanctuary behind a white picket fence in the Berkshires almost 40 years later? Sure, but that just wasn’t in the cards for us. What makes a house a home for me is difficult to pin down, my family and a dog of course. And to some extent, a few flowers.

This morning I ordered two dwarf lilacs to plant next to my front steps, to honor my foster mother Nelly Bly.



Who gets to define you? My first step into studying Buddhism asked this very question in a different way – how would you describe yourself? Easier maybe than a definition. I’m a nana and mother, a writer, a wife, stringer etc…easy. These are the simple ways, stating what you DO in the world rather than who you are!

An old friend from high school was visiting this weekend, and though our hair has turned a pale blondish white, we stood out in high school because we were both redheads. Being a “Redhead” has a certain cache. But when I was little I hated my hair, I wanted to be like everyone else, I wanted to fit in and belong. I wanted black hair like Snow White!

Edie and I were also both raised as the one and “Only” child in our families. Does that define us?

I woke up this morning to National Geographic’s special edition on Race through an Instagram video. They contend that science defines us by our DNA, but the environment, our culture defines us by the color of our skin. Their mission is to make us re-examine that paradigm; their example was a pair of fraternal twin girls, about ten years old.

The April edition of the magazine, The Race Issue, features a pair of black and white fraternal twin sisters from the United Kingdom, Marcia and Millie Biggs, on the cover (more here). The Biggs twins on the cover are a catalyst for readers to rethink what they know about race. The full issue is available now at natgeo.com/TheRaceIssue.

Now you know, and I know my DNA because I spit in a tube and sent my sample to Ancestry. Although I really didn’t need to know I was almost 100% Irish, because the priest at Sacred Heart School always told me I had the map of Ireland on my face! And I was mortified whenever he picked me out in class, although I’m sure it was meant as a compliment.

When our L’il Pumpkin was born with my exact shade of flaming strawberry blonde hair I was determined to help him feel proud about his carrot top. Well either that or ignore it altogether. But how will his ghostly white skin affect his journey through life? Will his schoolmates tease him when he’s putting on sunscreen before playing baseball? Will he yearn to have brown skin like some of his friends?

I remember when we visited Duke on the Bride’s college tour, and the Rocker, only 13 at the time, watched a group of African students walk by in colorful traditional dress. He thought it was so cool. Isn’t this what we want for our children, to enlarge their cultural influences, to expand their minds beyond a neighborhood of white privilege.

With our nation so divided – by political party, by religion, by geography – I wonder if we can turn inward to see what in fact we all share. Has Mr T unleashed this underbelly of white-neo-nazi terror in order to make us choose sides? Can we reject that? I choose to embrace our common sense of decency and civility, our humanity. We ALL want better schools for our children, schools without guns and active shooter drills. We ALL deserve comprehensive healthcare.

America, in our many shades of white/beige/brown/black, is at a tipping point. On the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s murder, I remember marching in the streets of Boston with my black armband. I was a college student then, and I would have defined myself as a “Dancer!”

Here is our superhero Spiderman. I can’t wait until he’s old enough to see Black Panther.


There, I said it. The first step is acceptance. I’ve tried every type of mind numbing hobby over the years; quilting and sewing when the kids were little, knitting later on and working in a friend’s shop named “Tanglewool.” Of course writing, cooking and gardening were always there, forming a tapestry of my days, until Great Grandma Ada turned me on to Beads. When I was packing up my aviary last summer, I knew I had to have my beads with me, no matter what!

I’ve already started stringing some green landscape jasper and white jade this morning. Last night I wore a coral and turquoise number to the Love Bug’s school, she was wearing an elephant necklace we’d made together. It was an International Night filled with foods from every corner of the globe, Bollywood dancers and Spanish songs. But I zeroed in on the Mission Table to Uganda – they were selling beautifully intricate paper beads. I realized I was powerless and had to have them.

Before our move to Nashville I’d been venturing outside my comfort zone, knotting pearls and working with tiny seed beads. The results were spectacular but the work was tedious and long. Yesterday I’d stop and look at my design on the dining table, adding something here, subtracting another bead there. This morning after coffee and the daily “damage report” from Bob, I picked out my wire and started stringing.

It’s like a meditation, almost like moving rosary beads in my hands when I was little. Your mind is focused on one thing, all the rest fades into the background noise on the street. And the finished product is uniquely mine, a small piece of art. Out of the chaos of my dining room dresser filled with beads I’ve created something new. Most of the necklaces and bracelets I’ve made I give away as gifts, but sometimes a piece will win me over and it gets to stay.

Some people have said I could sell my creations, who knows? Maybe some day when I get into my Pod and find all those eternity necklaces I made with freshwater and coin pearls. An eternity necklace has no clasp, no hardware or “findings” as we say in the Biz. I wonder what people would pay for them? There is some research yet to be done, and there are plenty of cute boutiques in the area, surely one of them might give it a try? But who knows, what if they don’t sell? Wait, there’s always Etsy!

My sister Kay made beautiful needlepoint pillows, I treasure the one on our bed in the likeness of our Corgi, Tootsie Roll. I have the white cotton coverlet my Nana crocheted over a hundred years ago, and I sent the lilac Easter sweater the Flapper knit to our cousins in California. What treasures will our children and grandchildren decide to keep, and what will go to Goodwill? Everybody is wired differently, and stringing melts away the small, still, everyday stress of life, like reading a good book.

Robins are dancing outside on the grass, and a squirrel keeps promenading up and down the sidewalk. I’m thinking of Spring colors, the yellow burst of buds, the soft green of moss. It’s time for some spring cleaning, but not before I finish this necklace.


Stormy Weather

Someday I’ll stand up in a not so smoky bar and sing torch songs. I’ve always loved the idea; an older, down on her luck crooner in a long gown with an amber-filled glass on the piano, singing her alto soul out. Under the spotlight, her grey hair like a halo. It’s the Blues for everywoman. Anything Ella or Billie is everything!

Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin’ All The Time)

Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky
Stormy weather
Since my man and I ain’t together
Keeps rainin’ all the time

Life is bare, gloom and mis’ry everywhere
Stormy weather
Just can’t get my poor self together
I’m weary all the time, the time
So weary all the time

Last night Great Grandma Ada was expecting over a foot of snow, and we told her it’s just cold here in Nashville. Cold and sunny, but robins are hopping all over the city. I swear I hear more birds around this townhouse than I ever heard on our mountain, except for those jack-hammering woodpeckers. So I was surprised when I opened the door this morning to take Ms Bean out, we actually had a dusting of snow! I had to squint in the dawn light, was it just a frost, are my eyes deceiving me?

This past year has left us all pretty much teetering on the edge of delusion and despair. We never know what Tweet will manage to screw up the economy or create new enemies in the world. Let’s raise tariffs on the EU, so TN whiskey will cost more to export. But wait, maybe we’ll exclude some countries from a tariff on metals? Foreign policy has been reduced to a frat-boy play/as/you/go/poker/game, let the chips fall. It’s no wonder we’re weary.

When along comes a porn star to brighten things up, Stormy Daniels, aka Stephanie Clifford, saves the day! Granted she had agreed not to talk after receiving $130,000 but she now says Mr President never signed the contract. So she’s free as a bird to tell us what kind of sex Mr T was into right after his son was born – missionary mostly – and that he wanted to see her again, and again.

It’s rather amusing that the GOP is more concerned with Mr T’s tariff musings than his adulterous affair with a porn star. We must work hard amid this storm to suspend our disbelief. After all, Nashville’s Mayor was caught in an affair of the heart, and five weeks later she resigned. One wonders where Mr T found that money to pay off Stormy, and other women, and just how indebted is he to Russia?

Happy International Women’s Day everyone! Thundersnow has hit the East Coast and the president and the porn star threaten to capture our news cycle for the time being; no talk about guns, or tariffs today thank you. If you’re feeling like you “…can’t go on,” the BBC has compiled 100 stories of women you’ve probably never heard of, and I think it’s worth a listen. http://www.bbc.com/news/topics/c779dqxlxv2t/100-women

Before that old rockin’ chair gets y’all.    IMG_2340



Gone are the days when a Hollywood studio could basically “own” its talent. But we’ve all heard of actors having to sign away their lives for a certain number of pictures over a period of years. Now with the #metoo movement, more than a few casting couches have been exposed. Once you achieved “star” status, the pressure might ease up a little; but did you know that over one hundred years ago at Universal Studios women were writing and directing many of the early silent films?

As director Ida May Park, another of the Universal Women, remarked in 1920, “Films are made for women, [who] compose the large majority of our fans.” That’s true today, when females make up 52% of the moviegoing audience. Yet filmmaking is top-heavy with male-driven stories, written, directed and produced primarily by men. Surely the mismatch has a role in the drop in box office receipts at movie theaters.  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-sharp-universal-studios-women-20171112-story.html

Last night, I understand Frances McDormand made an impassioned plea at the Oscars. Still haven’t seen “Three Billboards” but it’s on my list! Calling attention to an “inclusion rider” was her way of telling her peers that they can take back their power in numbers if everyone adds this rider to their contract. Simply put, you are calling for diversity of your cast and crew – you’d like the movie you are about to shoot represent all of the varied shades of the American people. All ages and sexes would be nice as well. And, I would add, maybe even women screenwriters?

With the exception of Star Wars, I’ve often felt that studios are so worried about box office numbers, they have lately been putting out any and all iterations of comic/book/super/action/heroes. Adolescent boy material can be good for awhile, but as a culture we’ve come close to overdosing. Women like a movie with a good storyline, that’s all. We don’t want gratuitous scenes of random violence and torture, we don’t need loud car chases and crashes.

Although, I must admit “Wonder Woman” was a long time coming.

Let’s take a look at that fish story. That’s what I call “The Shape of Water.” Bob loved it and I came away with a mawah feeling. I’m not sure why, maybe I’m just too practical to think a woman might fall for a fish. It had periods of light for sure, but best movie Oscar?  I told Bob I can’t wait to see one of my favorite actors, Jennifer Lawrence, in Red Sparrow. It’s only topping out at about 45M in the US, hmmm, then I read a Jezebel review and thought, WHY? Rape, sexual humiliation and torture, when Lawrence’s character is not walking aimlessly around a street…I feel like Nancy Kerrigan all the darn time.

When the Bride and I were driving home from our family forum on healthy sex, she happened to mention that unlike her peers, she remembers that as a teen we would allow her to see films with sex scenes in them, but not violent films filled with guns. I of course remember taking her to see an “Alien” movie because I’d read that Sigourney Weaver was the first female action star – and ended up covering her eyes for most of it! Sometimes you wonder what sticks during those parenting years.

I cannot wait to see “A Wrinkle in Time,” written, directed and starring women of all possible shapes, sizes and colors and ages. I wonder if Oprah, Reese and Mindy had inclusion riders in their contracts? Here is my favorite local historic home, hey Hollywood scouts, let’s see what goes on behind that door!    IMG_2373 2

High Winds

We all know that March can come in like a lion roaring, but I didn’t expect government buildings to close in DC and siding to get ripped off of houses in Cville. This morning we went to a preschool Purim celebration in Nashville, and Mother Nature may have turned colder here, but our wind blew in so many super heroes and princess/queens I fell in love with Judaism all over again!

When our kids were little, the President of the Brotherhood In our Berkshire’s temple dressed up as “Super Jew.” Bob once dressed as an Irish fairy because the date happened to coincide with St Patrick’s Day – a rare but exciting alignment of the stars. Purim is like Jewish Halloween and Feminist Easter rolled into one. Instead of the male protagonist dying and coming back to life, Queen Esther (who was secretly Jewish – kinda like Moses) saves her people from complete annihilation!

Purim is my kind of festival. It’s loud and glitzy and kids are all invited to the festivities. They blew up a little bouncy house in the Temple today! There’s no long wait for chicken soup, instead they had specially made cookies called hamentaschen. And just to top it all off, our female Rabbi and Cantor both dressed up as Wonder Woman!

Here are some Purim observances:

Reading of the Megillah (book of Esther), which recounts the story of the Purim miracle.

Sending gifts of two kinds of food (of course) to at least one person.

A festive Purim feast, which often includes wine or other intoxicating beverages.

Maybe I could have a margarita with lunch today? I was reading up on the news, and noticed the BBC dove into the special visa our First Lady Melania obtained to blow ashore in these United States. Not a bad idea for a story, considering Mr T is preparing to deport Dreamers and even spouses of military personnel.

She landed here from Slovenia on a tourist visa in ’96, then a string of working visas until she met Mr T 2 years later at a party. That’s when she applied for a very special green card.

It’s called “The Einstein Visa” or EB-1

To obtain an EB-1 for extraordinary ability, an immigrant has to provide evidence of a major award or meet three of 10 criteria proving excellence in their field. The criteria include coverage of the applicant in major publications, original and significant contributions to a field, and work displayed at artistic exhibitions.

At the time, all Melania was known for was, “… she appeared on the cover of British GQ on a fur rug in Mr Trump’s private jet, and in the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated in the US. She was not a top international model.” It’s not quite like being being published in a major journal or something.

Well.  Well.  Well. All right, so she didn’t win a Nobel Prize, but she did win Mr T’s heart obviously, if you believe he even has one of those organs. And I’ll bet he wrote her glowing testimonials as a reference. Hey maybe she was destined to be America’s next Top Model? The next Heidi Klum?!

I just heard a tractor trailer was blown over by 100 MPH winds on the Tappan Zee Bridge. I hope the people who bought our mountain home put some bricks on the hot tub! Or we may have to send in the Super Hero L’il Pumpkin!  IMG_2359

Sexy Day

Bob has returned from the sexiest city in the country. The Emergency Department Benchmarking Alliance (EDBA), a group that looks at ED performance, held their summit at Caesar”s Palace in Vegas! One of the young doctors at the conference told Bob that his book on ED management was her bible during her first tour as a director. Last night, Bob said he just doesn’t “get” that city, it’s all fake news. Plus, he doesn’t gamble.

We kissed hello, and I said goodbye. The Bride and I were off to a family forum at the Love Bug’s school on “Raising Sexually Healthy Children.” The Groom was still at his conference so I was invited, and of course I was the only Nana in the group. There were only a few dads; still, we represented a diverse range of opinions and concerns about sex. Ranging from the nitty gritty of “What and When,” to how can we keep them safe in the age of smart phones and social media.

My take-away for raising a sexually healthy adult (ie imagine your child at the age of 35, which of course, I didn’t have to do) is that you stay positive about anything they may ask  you. For instance, instead of immediately saying, “Where did you hear that?” in an accusatory voice, you begin a dialogue with your child. Staying available and open as a parent means they will keep coming to you for advice instead of their peers and/or porn. At least until they turn 16.

Ideally, you should present the facts to them in an age appropriate way.

Our culture has a way of making sex shameful. In fact when the Bride was young, she had exactly one year of sex ed in school, and it was all about STDs and HIV/AIDs. Bill Clinton and Ken Starr were duking it out when the Rocker was in middle school. One fundamentalist Christian mom looked at me and said, “We can thank our President for teaching our children about oral sex.” So I guess we can thank Mr T for teaching our grandkids what…?

Do you know what the average age of first sexual intercourse is in the USA? I didn’t! It’s 16.7; but I guess that depends on what the definition of “Is” is… The speaker recommended a book to start this journey on positive/holistic sexuality with your child titled, “It’s Not the Stork” by Robie H Harris for 4-5 year olds. If your child hasn’t been curious about sex by the age of 7, this is a good way to start the conversation.

The Groom returns home today triumphant! He was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine as the lead author in a study on the use of saline vs balanced crystalloids in the ICU. He’s been interviewed on our Nashville NPR station and the local news programs, and if that’s not sexy. I mean. It’s like winning the Oscar in medicine!

I remember the Bride twirling around at 3 in her twirly skirt, saying, “sexy” over and over again. I asked her what sexy means, and she said “Beautiful!”

My favorite flowering tree, the tulip magnolia, is in bloom and spring is in the air.  IMG_2318


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